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Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space (Vita) artwork

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space (Vita) review

"To save our mother earth from any alien attack from vicious giant insects who have once again come back, the EDF deploys."

The Chikyu Boeigun 2 (Earth Defense Force 2 in North America) has a storied history. Originally released in Japan on the PlayStation 2, this particular entry never made it to the Americas despite the attention D3 Publishers gave other offerings from the franchise, not even in the form of the more recent PSP remake. A full decade after first gracing a PlayStation screen, though, the title was updated for Vita and that version has been released by XSEED Games in North America as Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders From Planet Space.

The Earth Defense Force series began as a Simple 2000 title, part of a lineup which boasts a variety of games that are prolifically produced and marketed to budget-conscious consumers in Japan (with the "2,000" in the title referring to a 2,000 yen price point at launch). At a glance, Invaders From Planet Space fits right in, with its simple graphics and environments. You'll find that a surprising amount of depth lies beneath the surface, however.

Like the other titles in the series, Invaders From Planet Space is a third-person shooter centered around a group of brave soldiers who are protecting the Earth from various invaders from outer space, as well as a number of threats closer to home. Giant bugs, walking robots, UFOs, and even monsters worthy of Japan's best kaiju films fill the total roster of enemies that must be wiped off the face of the Earth. When you're just one (or one of four, in cooperative play) EDF soldier, how can you be a worthy protector? To quote Theodore Roosevelt, "Proper armament is the surest guarantee of peace."

Earth Defense Force's bliss lies in the diverse and explosive range of weaponry available. Each of three playable character classes (including the Air Raider, which didn't exist in the original PS2 release) has hundreds of weapons available. The Ranger class, best suited for newcomers to the series, relies on more traditional weaponry such as machine guns and rocket launchers. The Wing Diver, a personal favorite of mine, relies primarily on plasma and laser weapons, along with a jet pack that adds to her maneuverability. And finally, the aforementioned Air Raider (later seen in Earth Defense Force 4), is perfectly suited for co-op play, with an enormous arsenal of ordinance and traps to deploy.

You won't begin your campaign with access to all of the weapons. Your humble beginnings feed into that classic gameplay loop: kill enemies, get loot, manage bigger kills, get bigger guns. After destroying bugs or other invaders, you'll gain a health pack, an armor drop (which permanently increases your class' maximum HP), or a weapon drop that expands your arsenal to include a new form of firepower. There's a sort of ritual some players adopt, where they leave only an enemy or two on the battlefield as they run around collecting their bounty. One of the worst mistakes you can make is to fail to snag your loot before advancing to the next mission, which prevents you from gaining the necessary strength to overcome your more powerful foes.

Early on, when you don't have many weapons at your disposal, the game is a basic run 'n gun shooter dropped in three dimensions. That's especially true when you play as the Ranger, who starts with just a simple machine gun and rocket launcher. Within only a few missions, however, your firepower expands substantially to include a diverse range of gear that improves your combat efficiency. If calling in orbital strikes or firing hand-carried plasma cannons sounds like your idea of a good time, you're in for a treat because there's all sorts of equipment along those lines. Naturally, the very best of those weapons are locked behind missions with higher difficulty levels, which offers a high risk/high reward situation for players who yearn to become amazing bug slayers.

The 78 missions available in Earth Defense Force 2 all feature the same general goal: kill everything on the screen. Those are available at 6 different difficulty settings (the last of which is unlocked only once you complete every mission on every other difficulty setting using every character class), which works out to just over 1,400 missions if your goal is a platinum trophy. That's the most assignments in any EDF game to date. Early on, you should have a good idea whether the simple content appeals to you long enough to justify the 200 to 300 hours of play time that is necessary to clear everything.

Where the Earth Defense Force series is concerned, simplicity is part of the charm. That's true of the visuals, as well, but the Vita version's enhanced release does clean up some of the rough edges. There's a faster frame rate overall, but that still doesn't guarantee a smooth experience at all times. Weapons that offer explosive ordinance, and also the flamethrower, can cause the frame rate to dip into dicey territory, and that can induce a headache or two.

Despite Earth Defense Force 2's rough edges and simple gameplay, however, it offers a certain charm that other co-op games just can't match. No other series boasts the same weapon diversity, that same "Starship Troopers" feeling of hopelessness as you battle an army of bugs and other invaders from outer space, whether you're playing alone or with friends. Thanks to XSEED's excellent localization, fans finally get to enjoy one of the finest entries in the series with Invaders From Planet Space.


Gregarious's avatar
Freelance review by Kai Powell (December 09, 2015)

As an aspiring FGC contributor, Kai has earned enough tournament accolades to earn the title 'Eternally Second'. When not pouring his heart out over covering the games industry and running a corporate games store, he also spends his mornings at a ramen-ya

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Maggard posted October 16, 2016:

I am looking for the Player Setting description of buttons/triggers/joysticks/touch screens.

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